1. Keynote speech by Roberta Angelilli on the scope of children’s rights in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (Art. 24 , Clause 3) in parental separation cases
2. Letter of January 15, 2014 from PEF to Mrs. Angelilli
3. Reply letter of January 29, 2014 on behalf of Mrs. Angelilli to PEF
Roberta Angelilli, Vice-President of the European Parliament, was unequivocal in her October 2013 Strasbourg address.
European Parliament Building, Transcript by Peter Tromp, Strasbourg, October 23, 2013
Speaking at the conference “Facing the crisis of the family”, Vice-President Roberta Angelilli and Carlo Casini, President of the Constitutional Affairs Commission, were whole heartedly behind moves to introduce better child custody arrangements in Europe and pressed for a comparative survey on children custody in all EU states.
Opening statement [See footnote 1 below] by MEP Mrs. Roberta Angelilli, Vice-President of the European Parliament [See footnote 2 below], at the conference “Facing the crisis of the family in the name of the children: First comparative survey on children custody in Europe” [See footnote 3 below]:
“First of all, good afternoon to everybody. I would like to welcome you to the European Parliament. Welcome and many thanks to the Colibri network and all the partner organisations here today. Thanks for inviting me because in my opinion this meeting today is a very important meeting. It is an important opportunity to stress very strongly the need to protect children often at risk in the event of family tensions and conflicts.
As we all know Article 24 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union [See footnotes 4 and 5 below] states clearly that every child has the right to have a normal personal relationship and direct contact with BOTH parents. ALWAYS. I would like to underline ALWAYS, also in cases of separation or divorce. I would like to add “ABOVE ALL” in these cases.
For this there are many member states that provide for shared custody. If applied effectively the shared custody can bring great benefits to children. But too often however shared custody is just a formal concession without concrete effects. And what prevails is the same old model of exclusive custody to one of the parents.
As we know the definition of shared custody belongs to national family law. So it is not in the competence of the European Union, but in the competence only of member states. This explains the differences in the definition of shared custody and its effective implementation in different national systems.
In my responsibility of European Parliament mediator for cases of international child abduction I know the problem very well. In fact there are additional problems after divorce or separation when parents have different nationalities. These can lead to international child abduction. Obviously there are many international instruments in support of the best interest of children. But, despite that, because of the uncertainty of the applicable law there are conflicts of jurisdiction and insufficient knowledge and awareness of the rights and the duties of binational couples.
This is why I have proposed a “pilot project” with the aim of creating an information tool for bi-national couples on parental responsibility and the rights of children in cases of separation or divorce.
Also on my initiative the European Union has launched a study on cross-border abduction of children by a parent with the aim of analyzing the legal framework at the national and at European level and assessing the practical problems in the implementation and application of existing legislation.
Finally, with others colleagues I propose a written declaration on the protection of the right of children to maintain a concrete relationship with both parents, obviously in cases of divorce or separation.
So I remain at your disposal for all your requests and for working together in the best interest of children. And sorry but in five minutes I must go.”
— END —
 Video of the opening statement by MEP Roberta Angelilli, Vice-President of the European Parliament; http://www.vaderinstituut.be/media/strasbourgconference2013
 Roberta Angelilli, Vice-President of the European Parliament (MEP for the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), Italy)
 Conference “Facing the crisis of the family in the name of the children: First comparative survey on children custody in Europe”, European Parliament Building, Strasbourg, October 23, 2013
 Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2000/C364/01),
Article 24 (The rights of the child), Clause 3:
‘Every child shall have the right to maintain on a regular basis a personal relationship and direct contact with both his or her parents, unless that is contrary to his or her interests.’
 European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) | Helping to make fundamental rights a reality for everyone in the European Union
The Platform for European Fathers (PEF) wrote to Mrs. Angelilli on January 15, 2014:
RE: Strasbourg Conference Oct 23rd 2013
Dear Mrs. Angelilli,
On behalf of our organisation the Platform for European Fathers – PEF – (see note 1), may I say how we fully support your views on ‘shared parenting’ as they were stated in your opening statement at the Strasbourg European Parliament Building Conference on October 23rd, 2013 (see note 2).
We lament with you that only ‘lip service’ is paid by too many EU member states to the requirements of the EU Constitution in Article 24 (The rights of the child), Clause 3 to address this issue.
What concerns us is this: How forcefull is the European Parliament’s and European Commission’s view regarding Article 24, Clause 3, namely that “Every child shall have the right to maintain on a regular basis a personal relationship and direct contact with both his or her parents, unless that is contrary to his or her interests.” ?
So that we may go forward to press our case in Europe, may we ask for your confirmation that the EU is fully committed to the Fundamental Right that a child is always entitled to contact with ‘both’ of its divorced or separated parents ?
And how can the EU ensure that member states comply and ratify this right (Article 24, Clause 3) ?
In your opening statement in Strasbourg you also made mention of three of your latest initiatives:
- Your proposed “pilot project” with the aim of creating an information tool for bi-national couples on parental responsibility and the rights of children in cases of separation or divorce.
- Your EU initiative regarding a study on cross-border abduction of children by a parent with the aim of analysing the legal framework at the national and at European level and assessing the practical problems in the implementation and application of existing legislation.
- Your proposal, with others colleagues, of a written declaration on the protection of the right of children to maintain a concrete relationship with both parents – obviously in cases of divorce or separation.
PEF would be most interested to hear from you what progress has been made so far on these three initiatives (do you have any concrete information and reference sources), and how may we assist you to advance your views among Members of European Parliament from other EU member states?
Finally, what concrete advice can you give to the Platform for European Fathers (PEF) so that we can better advise parents from the EU who ask for our help ? We have in mind many occasions when the EU fundamental rights your spoke of, are not being honoured by the national courts of EU member states (nor by the child welfare authorities of these EU member states).
What EU institutions and EU ‘mechanisms’ can be best utilised to refer these parents to for further EU support in thease cases ?
We look forward to your reply.
On behalf of the Platform for European Fathers,
Peter Tromp MSc
Secretary General of the Platform for European Fathers (PEF)
- Note : The Platform for European Fathers – PEF – is a child and father focused national charity operating across most EU member states. PEF is particularly concerned that children are being marginalised by legislation and find themselves ‘fatherless’ after a parental divorce which negatively impacts their health and ‘life chances’. The PEF is an independent Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that represents national father, fatherhood and equal parenting organisations across Europe.
- Note : http://europeanfathers.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/39/
Roberta Angelilli‘s reply received by PEF, where she underlines the relevance of shared parenting legislation to be derived from Article 24, par. 3 of the EU Charter for Fundamental Rights
On Wednesday, 29 January 2014 her staff on behalf of Mrs. Roberta Angelilli answered the following in reply to the letter of January 15, 2014 from the Platform for European Fathers:
Dear Mr Tromp,
On behalf of Ms Angelilli thank you very much for your email and your interest in the activities of this office and sorry for the delay in answering you.
Regarding the respect of Article 24, par. 3 of the Charter, Ms Angelilli has stressed in many occasions the relevance of shared parenting, not only in the framework of international child abduction.
For example, she presented a parliamentary question for written answer to the Commission asking an assessment of joint custody at European level.
And there are many written questions that Ms Angelilli has presented on the issue of child abduction involving several Member States.
Indeed, in the event of separation or divorce, what Article 24 states should mean a balanced and continuing relationship for the child with both parents.
From the information available on the website of the European Judicial Network, many Member States have made provision for joint custody, which, if rigorously applied, can be extremely beneficial for the children. However, quite apart from international child abduction, there are very many cases of children born to parents of the same nationality, who, following a separation, no longer have regular contact with one parent.
This is a hidden issue that results in thousands of children losing contact not only with one of the two parents, but also with their relatives on that side of the family.
In terms of safeguarding the child’s best interests, both parents have the same right/duty to raise, educate and support their offspring, with equal status and rights.
– For what concerns the initiatives undertaken, the written declaration on Written declaration on “the protection of the right of minors to maintain a meaningful relationship with both parents, even if the latter are legally separated or divorced” is now closed.
– The implementation of the pilot project is ongoing, the output is expected in March.
– The EP study on cross-border child abduction is also in progress. We should have the preliminary results (principal findings) between February and March.
There are several mechanism for supporting parents in the EU (the Hague Conventions, Regulation 2201/2003 for example), although the definition of joint custody belongs to substantive family law. As such, it does not fall within the EU’s competence but remains under the sole responsibility of the Member States. This explains why there may be differences in the national systems as regards the definition of joint custody and how it works in practice.
I would like to underline that in order to fill existing gaps in EU law application, the European Commission has launched a review of the regulation 2201/2003 and will adopt a report on how it has been applied in practice.
The EP study follows a previous one on ” “the parental responsibility, child custody and visitation rights in cross-border separation” and aims expressly to provide an in-depth analysis of the present legal instruments and should clearly indicate any shortcomings as well as present proposals for improvements.
The study should in particular concentrate on how to guarantee the effectiveness of the judicial cooperation as foreseen by the Brussels II regulation and the Hague Convention.
I hope this will be useful for you.
This office remains at your disposal.
on behalf of
Vice Presidente del Parlamento Europeo